Oakland cops reluctant to arrest store owner who opened fire to stop robbery

The arrest of the Oakland Chinatown store owner who fired shots while interrupting a robbery has divided the police department.

On Monday, the store owner saw a woman being confronted by men who wanted her camera near 9th and Franklin. The men also hit her with their car.

That's when the store owner fired shots, and the men took off. KTVU has learned that the store owner has a concealed weapons permit from outside Alameda County that's valid statewide.

Oakland police officers and investigators believed the owner, who has helped them find suspects in the past, should be released from custody.

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But those officers were overruled by a captain who ordered the owner be jailed, sources told KTVU. 

"This captain made a horrible decision," said KTVU legal analyst Michael Cardoza. "It smacks of politics. It smacks of 'CYA,'— 'I don't want to make a mistake.'"

Cardoza said the owner's arrest only alienates the Chinatown community, which has been hit by criminals.

"Just think what that store owner's going to do next time the police need help," Cardoz said. "He's gonna go, 'I'm not helping! You guys are gonna arrest me! That captain's gonna come back out, he's going to have me arrested!' "

Earlier this week, Chief LeRonne Armstrong said he understands the safety concerns in chinatown. But he said store owners should be calling police, not firing their guns.

"We don't want people to fire weapons into our community, right?" Armstrong said. "When weapons are fired in our community, there could be unintended victims."

Civil rights attorney Jim Chanin, who monitors Oakland police conduct, agrees.

"As sympathetic as the person may be, it's simply not the law. We can't have this kind of vigilante action," Chanin said.

The store owner told officers that arresting him sends the message that citizens should "do nothing" and that it's OK for criminals to target the vulnerable.

Cardoza says he doubts the store owner will be charged.

"Nobody will convict him. They'll probably want to give him a medal," Cardoza said.

The store owner, the woman targeted by robbers and the police captain have declined to comment.